Braised beef Cuban style for Vaca Fri

Braised beef Cuban style for Vaca Fritas (Fried Meat) served with smoky beans and Cuban bread

Braising meat like flank steak is a really good alternative to the marinated grilled steak of the outdoor barbeque season. Since there is very little fat, this recipe which is braised for tenderizing and then fried for texture and flavor will give a very good yield. We have added smokey beans and some cuban bread along with our favorite condiment here, Mojo.

We used this recipe for the meat on the Cuban style “meze” plate we did for October 2014 dinner show menu, and again in February 2016 dinner show.


  • 1 pound flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons, flavors of Southern Spain spice blend
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other high smoke point
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 head garlic, cloves, sprout removed
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice or sour orange juice*


*Sour orange juice comes from an orange grown in in southern countries that is called Seville or  “sour orange.” It is not preferred for eating as we eat the sweeter versions, but works in cooking and makes a mean marmalade. If you cannot find these oranges, you may find it bottled in the Latin sections of  your market. We use regular juice oranges plus a bit of lime juice to approach the appropriate amount of “sour.”

Season meat with spice and salt on both sides, patting it down to reach all of surface. heat oil in braising pan. Add meat and sear all around till brown. Remove from pan. Add vegetables into hot pan Add a rest of the oil and cook vegetables until aromatic. Add the orange juice and bring to boil. Add meat back into pan on orange juice. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, checking each hour for 2-2 1/2 hours. Alternatively place into 325ºF oven for same time, or until meat is tender and flakes easily. Cool when done enough so you can handle it to shred it. Meat will pull off in tender pieces. Blend with remaining aromatics, and cool until needed.

Once cooked, at service, have ready additional vegetables:  1 sliced onion, 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly, 1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly. Place onion into dry pan and heat over medium high until they brown; add pepper and let steam until tender. In fresh pan add 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and saute the finished shredded flank steak and their aromatics. Season  with more salt pepper and coriander and 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced with seeds or chopped without seeds and ribs, depending on how hot it is and how hot you like it.

Serve with “Smoky black beans” pico de gallo and “mojo” on cuban style flat bread.


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